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Kegel Exercises Pelvic Floor Probe

Kegel Exercises Pelvic Floor Probe Pelvic Floor Problems in Women
The pelvic floor is the name for a group of muscles that form a V-shaped sling across the opening into the pelvis (the bone at the base of the spine that forms the hips). These muscles support the tissues and pelvic organs, keep them in position and enable them to function properly.

A pelvic floor disorder occurs when the muscles in the pelvic floor or the connective tissues are damaged or weakened. The loss of structural support can cause a range of problems, like urinary incontinence, bowel incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and vaginal heaviness or pressure. In vaginal prolapse, the top of the vagina falls into the opening of the vaginal canal. In uterine prolapse, the uterus slips down into the vagina. In severe cases, part of the uterus may protrude out from the vagina.

Researchers estimate more than 40 percent of women in the U.S. experience symptoms related to pelvic floor problems at some point in their lives. Risk for the condition increases with age. Women who have given birth vaginally tend to have a higher incidence. The more babies a woman has, the greater the risk. Other risk factors include: having a heavy baby, prolonged second stage of labor and young age (under 25) at the time of the first delivery.

Some women with pelvic floor disorder can be treated with muscle training exercises (Kegel exercises). A device, called a vaginal pessary, can be inserted into the vagina to provide extra support for the pelvic organs. In serious cases, surgery may be needed. Researchers estimate, every year, 200,000 women in the U.S. undergo surgery for pelvic organ prolapse. It’s the leading reason for hysterectomy in postmenopausal women.

Probing the Cause of Pelvic Floor Disorders
Pelvic floor disorders seem to be more common among women who have had a vaginal birth rather than cesarean birth. Experts believe that as the baby’s head starts to push toward the birth canal, the muscles and connective tissue in the pelvic floor are stretched. Nerve injury or damage may also occur. However, not all women experience pelvic floor problems. And the condition can sometimes occur in women who have delivered by C-section.

Tom Gregory, M.D., a Reconstructive Pelvic Surgeon at Oregon Health & Science University, is trying to understand what causes pelvic floor problems and what characteristics put women at risk for the condition. He is using an ultrasound probe to study the muscles in the pelvic floor. If any unusual characteristics are found, an MRI scan may be performed. Another test looks at nerve function in the pelvic floor. A needle is inserted into the muscles to measure the strength of the electrical signals between active and resting muscles.

Gregory will test and follow the women before, during and after pregnancy. That will enable him to measure and record any changes in the pelvic floor in relation to pregnancy and delivery. Ultimately, the information may be used to counsel women about the best way to deliver (vaginal or cesarean birth) to reduce the risk of pelvic floor problems. Gregory says the findings may also provide clues as to how to best rehabilitate damaged pelvic nerves and muscles and prevent the onset of symptoms.

The study is only taking place at Oregon Health & Science University. For more information, visit,, or call (503) 494-3666.

The study is only taking place at Oregon Health & Science University. For more information, visit,, or call (503) 494-3666.

For general information on pelvic floor problems:
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,

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